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Finsbury Park mosque attack: Imam 'protected van driver' from angry public after crash

The Independent logo The Independent 19/06/2017 Jon Sharman
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Related video: Imam 'protected alleged attacker' (Sky News)

An imam reportedly shielded the van driver involved in the suspected Finsbury Park terrorist attack from harm in the immediate aftermath of the crash.

One person has died and 10 were injured when a van ploughed into pedestrians near a mosque in north London in the early hours of Monday.

It is being treated as a potential terrorist attack, the Prime Minister said.

How the attack unfolded © PA How the attack unfolded Witnesses told Sky News the imam protected the driver from angry members of the public as he was pinned down until police arrived on the scene.

Police said a 48-year-old suspect has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, and that they are not looking for anyone else.

Toufik Kacimi, chief executive of the nearby Muslim Welfare House, thanked Imam Mohammed Mahmoud “whose bravery and courage helped calm the immediate situation after the incident and prevented further injuries and potential loss of life”.

Hamza Nimane, who was in the mosque at the time of the attack, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “It wasn't the police that arrested him — it was the people that came out of the mosque.

© Provided by Independent Print Limited ”They're the ones that grabbed him and managed to hold him down.“

He added: “There were at least 300 people in the mosque praying, and everyone was panicking, everyone was screaming.

“I was looking around me, I saw a few people lying on the floor with blood on their head, and then obviously the ambulance service came and started treating them.

“There was people lying everywhere, basically; I saw at least seven people lying on the floor.

“Some of them even looked dead to me, to be honest, because people were trying to cover them with sheets and stuff.”

Speaking on Monday morning, Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu said the incident was being treated as a "terrorist attack'' and thanked members of the public for restraining the suspect.

He said that a man who died in the Finsbury Park incident was already receiving first aid from members of the public at the time and it is not yet known if his death was caused by the attack.

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